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January 14, 2019

ABA House meets Jan. 28 with legal education, school gun safety topping agenda

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2019 — The American Bar Association House of Delegates meets later this month with a full slate of resolutions, including proposals to change the bar passage rate standard for law graduates and another to oppose arming non-security personnel in the nation’s schools. 

The HOD, as the ABA policy-making body is known, meets Jan. 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas at the end of the 2019 ABA Midyear Meeting. Its preliminary agenda has about 30 different resolutions. The HOD consists of 601 delegates from state, local and specialty bar associations and meets twice a year. 

In a significant change, the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is asking the delegates to concur with Resolution 105, which would simplify the bar passage standard for the nation’s 203 ABA-approved law schools. The HOD rejected a similar change in 2017 that would require schools to have a bar-passage rate of at least 75 percent within two years for those who sat for the test. Now, schools can meet the passage standard through a variety of ways. 

A study released by the council found that nearly 9 of 10 law graduates who first sat for the bar in 2015 passed it within two years. Under ABA procedures, the HOD can review a change in ABA legal education standards twice but the council can still enact it without HOD concurrence.  

Resolution 106A would put the ABA on record as opposing laws that authorize teachers, principals or other non-security school personnel to possess a firearm in or nearby a pre-K through grade-12 school. The proposal also urges banning public funds for firearms training for teachers, principals or other non-security personnel or for firearm purchases for those individuals. 

Other resolutions range from ensuring the accuracy of criminal records to rescinding the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policies. They include:

  • Resolution 109A urges the U.S. attorney general to rescind the “Zero Tolerance” and “Operation Streamline” policies that mandate the prosecution of all persons alleged to have improperly entered the United States for the first time, a misdemeanor under 8 U.S.C. 1325; end the practice of expedited mass prosecution of immigrants; and allow for an individualized determination in deciding whether to file criminal charges. 

  • Resolution 109B urges federal, state, local, territorial and tribal legislatures to define criminal arrests, charges and dispositions that are eligible for expungement or removal from public view by sealing these records; the proposal also sets out a process for individuals to have their criminal records expunged. 

  • Resolution 101B recommends enactment of a rule by the highest courts or legislative bodies of all states, territories and tribes charged with the regulation of the legal profession, as well as by all federal courts, providing for a continuance based on parental leave of either the lead attorney or another integrally involved attorney with certain limitations. 

  • Resolution 106B asks federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments to reduce potential harm that individuals may inflict on themselves or others by enacting statutes, rules or regulations allowing individuals to temporarily prevent themselves from purchasing firearms.  

  • Resolution 107A urges the federal judiciary, Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to enact legislation and adopt policies to protect the privacy interests of those crossing the border by imposing standards for searches and seizures of electronic devices, protection of attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and lawyer-client confidentiality.
  • Resolution 107B seeks commitments from legal employers not to require pre-dispute mandatory arbitration of claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence. 

The full slate of resolutions can be found here. Resolutions do not become ABA policy until approved by the House of Delegates and are subject to change before then. All ABA policies and procedures can be found in the ABA Policies and Procedures Handbook.

Online registration (see News Media category) is available for news reporters. Credential guidelines are here. 

During the Midyear Meeting, accredited journalists should register onsite or pick up their preregistered press credentials at the Promenade Level foyer of the Conference Center at Caesars Palace beginning at 9 a.m. on Jan. 23. A press room for accredited reporters will be provided in the Roman Room on the Promenade Level starting at 9 a.m. on Jan. 25. The room will be open daily thereafter from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Jan. 28. 

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